Nutritional Assessment in Cancer Patients

Cancer Treat Res. 2023:185:285-310. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-27156-4_14.


Malnutrition in cancer patients is highly prevalent. The metabolic and physiologic changes associated with the disease and the side effects of treatment regimens all combine together to produce a detrimental effect on the patient's nutritional status. A poor nutritional status significantly reduces the efficacy of treatment methods and the patient's overall chances of survival. Therefore, an individualized nutrition care plan is essential to counter malnutrition in cancer. Nutritional assessment is the first step of this process which sets the foundation for developing an effective intervention plan. Currently, there is no single standard method for nutritional assessment in cancer. Hence, to get a true picture of the patient's nutritional state, a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of the patient's nutritional status is the only reliable strategy. The assessment includes anthropometric measurements and evaluation of body protein status, body fat, inflammation markers, and immune markers. A thorough clinical examination which factors in the medical history and physical signs, along with the dietary intake patterns of the patient, is also important components of nutritional assessment of cancer patients. To facilitate with the process, various nutritional screening tools like patient-generated subjective global assessment (PGSGA), nutrition risk screening (NRS), and malnutrition screening tool (MST) have been developed. While these tools have their own benefits, they only give a glimpse of the nutritional problems and do not bypass the need for a complete assessment employing various methods. This chapter covers all four of the elements of nutritional assessment for cancer patients in detail.

MeSH terms

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status